“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. “ – 2nd Corinthians 4:11
When we decide to follow Jesus, we submit everything to Him so that we can be molded into something that looks more like Him. This molding happens only when we allow the old things to die. Actual pieces of who we are must be handed over to die so that we can be more like Jesus. THIS IS PAINFUL. It is devastating. It is sometimes debilitating but necessary. This kind of death creates a life that can only be experienced when we pay a high price. That is why we must be handed over to death.
Sometimes this death comes through laying down a desire, choosing someone else above ourselves, or through grief, trial, or loss. As you experience this spiritual death of who you used to be, you probably experience actual pain, and you definitely experience extreme heartbreak. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but I believe if part of you is literally dying then it is normal for you to experience some pretty extreme pain in one way or another.
Can I keep it real with you? I’m tired of dying. I’m tired of hurting and grieving and losing what I love. I’m just tired. I just want the sadness that invades me so often to stop. I want to stop being handed over to death.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about walking through a long season of grief and loss. I’m still in that season, and I’m speaking to you from it because I feel like it is important for each of us to see what it looks like to journey with Jesus in the midst of death. Not just the lessons learned from the other side. I’m writing to you from a place where I currently sit. Not a place I’ve once been and have come out of. I’m writing to you from this place today because if you are sitting here in the pain of death I want you to know you are not dying alone.
Even this week the Lord asked me to walk away from a really valuable friendship. Maybe just for a season. Maybe forever. Not because it was terrible or sinful. But sometimes Jesus just wants to take something back for a bit. To heal it, or strengthen it, or to give you something better in exchange. Regardless of His reasoning, I did not want to walk away. I didn’t want to be handed over to this kind of death. I didn’t want to grieve again. And He has the audacity to ask for this friendship in the middle of so much other grief. For real? Are you kidding me? This is not fair. But I did it anyway. I handed it over, and I’m sitting in my grief once again throwing a fit because I’m tired of dying.
So what do you do when you are tired of dying? Well, I’m not entirely sure what it is supposed to look like but I will share with you what I feel like God has placed in my heart. First, I think we have to keep saying “yes” to the death we are being asked to walk through. Whatever it is He is asking you for, whatever way He wants to hand you over to death today, you just say “yes” to it. That is maybe the most difficult step.
Next, as the emotions and pain sink in, I curl up in a fetal position. It’s ok. You’re dying and it’s painful. Sit in the emotion of whatever it is you are feeling. Sanctification comes through fire. But you have to sit in the fire to be sanctified. This means sitting in the fullness of your pain. This pain melts away the things that are of you and not of Christ. If you skip the fire, you will miss the most important part of death. The part that makes you into something valuable. The part that makes you look like Jesus.
So once you’ve recovered a bit from the fire and you’ve washed your face, you ask Jesus to meet you in it. To sit with you. To wrestle with you. You ask Him to make you breakfast just like He did for Peter in John 21. Whatever, however, just engage with Jesus. As we engage with Jesus, it is important to speak what is true. We declare what we know to be true about Jesus. That He is good, faithful, sovereign, just, kind, merciful, and gracious. It’s ok to speak these things without feeling like they are true. The scriptures say they are true so we know they are true regardless of how we feel about them. There is a healing that comes from speaking out what is true over the lies that we believe.
The last step is the most costly step for me. It is to walk out the everyday walk with Jesus faithfully as I am being delivered over to death. To care for others while I’m hurting. To sow into others’ dreams when I feel like mine are dying. To comfort those who morn when I feel like comfort has been withheld from me. To faithfully walk in obedience when my selfishness wants to choose my needs and desires over the things of God.
Guys. It is so hard. This process is so costly, exhausting, and excruciating. So why do we choose to be handed over to death? Because I believe, at least for me, that there is a steadfastness being created in me as I walk in obedience. There is a compassion being created in me as my heart breaks. My rough edges are being softened as I sit in the flame of sanctification. Because, at the end of the day, it really is making me more like Christ.
Like a moth to the flame, I am drawn into this sanctification. I can’t say “no” to Jesus. I can’t walk away from being more like Him. I am literally consumed to a place of dependency on this sanctification. So over and over and over and over again, I choose to be handed over to death and to be made more like Christ.
So maybe you don’t have this weird draw towards sanctification. What do you do? How do you deal? The truth is we all go through seasons where we want to walk away. That is when you keep it real with Jesus. You tell Him how you feel. Ask Him for the desire to keep walking in obedience. You ask Him to bind your wandering heart to Him. Because He is faithful, He will keep you close. He will hold onto your heart until you are ready to be handed over to a death that will bring you life.
So, regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, my prayer is that today you will find hope, healing, and a kind of life that can only be found through death. Remember that you are not alone and that there is a body of believers being handed over to death with you.
In Reckless Pursuit,